Belgium - United Kingdom: generalities after Brexit
You leave Belgium to settle in the United Kingdom or you leave the United Kingdom to settle in Belgium.
Before leaving, you should enquire with the competent institutions about the formalities you need to complete in order to maintain your social security benefits or to receive social security benefits.
General state of affairs
On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union. Both parties (the United Kingdom and the EU) agreed on a withdrawal agreement which entered into force on 1 February 2020, which, among other things, provided that the European Union regulations remained applicable until 31/12/2020.
On December 24, 2020, a trade and cooperation agreement was concluded between the European Union and the United Kingdom that will regulate future relationships after 31/12/2020.
Situation as of 01/01/2021
In principle, these European regulations (regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009 on the coordination of social security systems) will no longer apply as of 01/01/2021. Nevertheless, the withdrawal agreement guarantees certain social security rights under specific conditions.
Here are some examples:
1. Belgian and European citizens in a cross-border situation between Belgium and the United Kingdom on 31/12/2020, i.e:
- are subject to British legislation or
- reside in the United Kingdom and are subject to Belgian law, or
- are employed or self-employed in the United Kingdom and are subject to Belgian legislation, or
- hold a British residence or work permit.
As long as they are in one of these situations, they will continue to benefit without interruption from European social security rules.
This also applies to British nationals who are in a similar situation to Belgium.
2. Persons who were in a cross-border situation between Belgium and the United Kingdom, but who are no longer.
- You are Belgian and worked in the United Kingdom from 2011 to 2018, after which you ended your activity and entered into a new employment contract in Belgium.
- You are Belgian and worked in the United Kingdom from 2019 to 2022, then you ended your activity and entered into a new employment contract in Belgium.
These people are entitled to have their periods of insurance, employment and residence in the United Kingdom and/or Belgium taken into account before and after 31/12/2020, for example for their old-age pension.
3. Persons who do not have any relationship between the United Kingdom and Belgium on 01/01/2021 and who find themselves in a cross-border situation for the first time after 31/12/2020 or persons who are no longer covered by the Withdrawal Agreement (see above) and find themselves back in a cross-border situation with the United Kingdom.
For the latter category, the situation is regulated through the trade and cooperation agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom of 24 December 2020. With a few exceptions, the same principles are included that apply within the European Union.
If you are going to work in the Unites Kingdom the social security legislation of the United Kingdom will, in principle, apply to you, besides a number of exceptions that are mentioned in the trade and cooperation agreement, such as in the case of posting.
Subject to a number of exceptions that are included in the trade and cooperation agreement, such as in the case of secondments, the Belgian social security legislation will apply to you when you come to work in Belgium.
The trade and cooperation agreement only apply under certain conditions, such as:
You have to be legally on the territory of an EU/EEA country or the United Kingdom.
The trade and cooperation agreement guarantee that :
you will have the same rights and obligations in the country where you work as an employed citizen of this country;
periods of activity in both countries will be taken into account for the entitlement to social security benefits;
you will be able, under certain conditions, to receive social security benefits from your country of origin when you live in the other country;
your periods of activity in Belgium and your periods of activity in the United Kingdom will be totalised for your entitlement to social security benefits and for the calculation of the amount of these benefits, e.g. for the retirement pensions.
The trade and cooperation agreement contain detailed rules of application for the granting of the social security benefits.
The regulations bear on the following benefits:
sickness benefits (including maternity and paternity)
invalidity benefits (only for calculation, not for export)
benefits for accidents at work
benefits for occupational diseases
unemployment benefits (only for calculation, not for export)
You will find more information on "information search", selecting the criteria that apply to you.
Consult here the regulations, the withdrawal agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom on 24 December 2020:
Regulation (EC) No 987/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 laying down the procedure for implementing Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems (Text with relevance for the EEA and for Switzerland)